Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Suck This, Salik

Salik: N. the much hated dubai toll system instituted to move congestion from Sk Zayed Road to other areas. Has resulted in making the gridlock even worse.

I sent an email to Salik Customer service late last night. I wanted to know if I need a Salik tag for the Oman registered car I'll be driving in Dubai.

I received a response this morning, But along with the response I received 250+ items of Spam. I've had one spam message in the entire four years I've had this email address. I haven't emailed anyone except my husband in the last couple of days.

I hate spam.

In other news, I leave tomorrow for two weeks of work! My family have been doing thier utmost this week to ensure that I'm not too sad to leave them... It is working.

I intend to be so un-sad, in fact, that I will pull out of the drive in a hail of burnt rubber, skidding down the block so fast that if you listen carefully you will actually be able to hear the air colapsing around the space I was just in. Except you won't be able to hear that over the sound of my laughter.

No news for two weeks from here, see you guys when I get back.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Shanfari Automotive, I want to have your babies.

Really, I want to roll around on a sandy beach, making out with you, just like in the Chris Issac music video. I want to fall asleep in your workshop at night, snuggled against a pile of tyres, safe and secure in the knowlege that you will care for my car and fetch, in a timely manner, the spare parts I so desperatey need for my latest uselss acquisition.

Shanfari Automotive, I love you, and I want to be with you forever.

You guys may be wondering what has possessed me to express such unadultertated devotion to an Automotive parts conglomerate. Clearly, you people don't own Chevrolets, or Toyotas*. Getting a spare part for an older car from Chevrolet or Toyota* is like pulling teeth without anesthetic, only more painfull. It's the kind of struggle that saps my will to live, takes up thirty hours of my time, and usually ends with me ordering the part from a junkyard in Dubai or the states, and waiting a month for it to arrive. I am unable to have the sort of melodramatic emotional meltdown and freak-out that the parts departments at Bahwan and OTE diserve, because, as surely as the sun rises and sets, I will need another part in a week or so.

Thus, it was with heavy heart, and barrels of pessimisim that I went to Shanfari Automotive in Al Khuwair to request a small part for my aging Jeep.

I walk in, and there are three OMANI guys behind the counter. (oh my God! Omani's! Real Live, Omani's!) They spoke impeccable Arabic (obviously) and perfect English. They each have a computer available to them, which they can use to look up parts. They were able to tell me which parts they had in stock, how many of them they had, and the lead times for the parts they didn't have on hand, and where the parts would ship from. They knew a lot about cars, so when I said I needed the gasket seal for the inlet on my Fuel Injection rail, they knew exactly what I was asking for.

I often get treated like some sort of slightly retarted alien life force when I go into shops asking about specific spare parts. Baffeled stares abound, My judgement is questioned, my knowlege disagreed with, I am repeatedly told by some pompus, sexist asshole to be quiet and let him figure it out. IE: "Please, madam, don't touch that! It's the motor... Madam, This is tyres" So it was with glee, and a series of giddy school-girl squeals and jumps that I got to wander back to where they keep the parts, dictate the peice I needed, and have a wander around the workshop, stopping to touch anything I wanted.

Part received, Five rials paid, I was on my way in less than twenty minutes. You might think five rials is a lot to pay for a small rubber washer the size of a quarter, but I would like to assure you that if you factor in the monetary value of my time, and the value placed on frustration, The same part would have cost me upwards of 250RO at Chevrolet or Bahwan*.

*Toyota and Nissan Owners, you have a choice; you should get your spares from Al Kiyumi spare parts in wadi Kabir. Factory originals, purchased from the distributor in Dubai, imported here, and still sold cheaper than the dealership here is charging. We really get ripped off by the dealers here....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The kids in my Neighborhood are getting Diddly Squat for Eid.

I left my small truck, the Abu Shenab, parked out front of the house all day today. Big Mistake. I Got back home just before Iftar to find the drivers side door hanging open. They'd turned the headlights on, and left them that way.

I guess I should count myself lucky that the thing wasn't up on blocks and covered in spray paint.

When I figure out which kid did this, I'm going to kill him.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Too Friendly Friend?

I need some advice, from all you married folks out there. Especially Omanis.

See I have a Male, Omani Acquaintance who is being weird. He's barely even an acquaintance, and has so far done nothing... Except be really creepy, but in a way so benign that I feel a little bad for questioning his intentions, and trying to avoid his increasingly persistent intrusions into my life. I really want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I think the time has come to tell him to fuck off and stop harassing me.

I should point out that I made it VERY VERY clear from the first time we met that I am happily married. Crystal clear. I have been totally, totally correct with him, handshake only, attired in a very conservative manner. I've been standoffish to the point of being rude. I've given him absolutely no indication that I am interested in discussing anything other than cars.
  • I met Mr. Biscuit six months ago in a parking lot. MR. Biscuit had followed me from the highway and wanted to ask about my car. This is not unusual because almost daily I get stopped by men, women, and the occasional police officer enquiring about my car.
  • Though I am not a huge fan of total strangers following me around and then bugging me about my car in a parking lot, it turns out, Mr. Biscuit is not a stranger. Mr. Biscuit is the husband of a lady with whom I once worked on a small project. Indeed, I can clearly recall his lovely wife.
  • Cut to two weeks later. My phone has been ringing incessantly with a number I don't recognize. Annoyed, I answer, and it's him. (How he got my number I will never know.) He needs help sourcing a part for his car, something I had mentioned I could do. Can he come over? I'm thinking of excuses... Too busy, Baby is sick, Flood troubles, on vacation, I put him off for months, thinking he'll move on. No Dice.
  • So finally I have him over for coffee and a look at the spare parts catalogue, which he only glances at. Send him on his way having ordered a copy of the book sent to his address.
  • He keeps calling, and calling, and calling. Then I loose my phone. He shows up at the door while I'm out, hassles my maid, somehow gets her number through the missed call ploy. He calls her repeatedly asking if she's given his number to me or if she has my new number. When I finally have a new number and handset sorted out for myself I call him and tell him to stop bugging my maid.
  • So for the last two weeks he's been calling and calling me again. Because I am a coward I am avoiding answering his calls. He's sent two text messages "hi sweet, how r u & kids. i miss u take care my lovely one" and this one this morning--- "hi how are you dear i miss u be in touch honey"
  • What the fuck? Even my very best male friends, Omani guys with whom I have traveled the world, and known for umpteen years don't send texts like that.

So Here's the question; Do I

A) Keep ignoring his calls. He'll get the message eventually.

B) Call him myself and explain that his persistent attention is making me feel uncomfortable. Ask him to leave me alone.

C) Ask my husband and brothers to have a word* with him

D) Cut the poor guy some slack. He's only trying to be friendly.

E) None of the above.

And for a bonus point: Am I being totally stuck up, or totally oblivious?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Overheard in Muscat, lately

I was going to blog about how the useless CV's that your average Omani diploma holder has are the real menace to the onward march of omanisation, but I'm too lazy. Maybe next week.

Thus, another addition to the ongoing overheard in muscat series.

On speakerphone, enquiring about the car we eventually bought:
My Man: So It's a 96?
Australian Lady selling car: Yeah, with 140,000 kms... we're the third owners I think.
My Man: And can you tell me why are you selling it?
Australian Lady selling car: My husband bought a Hummer last month.... (pause) I don't know why, there's nothing wrong with his penis.
My Man: Pffffft!!!!! laughing, spitting beer across the table.
Australian Lady selling car: Well, I'm just saying....

On returning Late from work, and finding a tired, bitchy wife at home:
My Man: On the way home I got some juice, some lettuce, and some onions.
Me: OK.
My Man: also, I picked up a fresh box of "nice wife"....
Me: Hope you picked up a box of "come the hell home on time", "skip rugby" and a box of "you wake up and feed the baby tonight"...because "nice wife" doesn't work very well without those.
My Man: damn... No wonder it was on sale.

Special feature this week; A joke, as told to me by Tariq.
So I was in the souk last week and there was this guy speaking swahilli.
I go over, and say man, Where you from?
Swahili guy says, PDO.
Ba Dum Ching!

Someone needs to cancel the security subscription to Mtv... Part II
Security guy: Hey Suburban! come see my new car... Taal...
Me: Nice! I bet it goes fast?
Security Guy: Yeah, it's big pimping.
Me: Sweet. Give my regards to your bitches.
Security Guy: Also to your bitches.

Cruel tricks to play on new arrivals, Part 1
New Guy: Want to go out for a Kapsch with me after Eid?
Me: Capsh?
New Guy: (winking) You know? Kapsh?
Me: A goat? Kapsh means goat.
New Guy: Really?
Me: Really. Who taught you that?
New Guy: The guys in IT.... No wonder they all keep laughing when I tell them I can't wait to get my hands on a little Kapsch when the bars open.
Me: No wonder.